Listen, if anyone has dealt with haters and negativity the past few years it’s me.
I don’t think that’s an accomplishment many people want, but hey, if you’re not invoking emotions in people, you aren’t pushing the boundaries enough right? Wearing t-shirts for a living, selling my last name (twice), appearing on major media outlets, all of these things have forced me to learn how to deal with haters and negativity.
I haven’t always had thick skin.
From a young age, like many others, I was bullied. I moved around a lot as a kid. My mom and I always argue about the number, but it was somewhere between 14-16 different schools I attended by the time I graduated college. Being the new kid and being awkward looking while I was growing up (who am I kidding, I’m still awkward looking) didn’t earn me any hall passes with the bullies.
But as hard as it was, I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for anything. Without the lonely lunches in cafeterias, being picked on during recesses, and mockery from insecure and unhappy people, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. This Walt Disney quote sums it up pretty damn well:
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
So how does my childhood relate to dealing with haters and negativity as it pertains to business, social media, and life in general?
Well first and foremost I developed a strong sense of self and a thick skin from a young age. As you get older you start to understand that negative people are simply unhappy with their own lives and circumstances. That’s a great step in helping put their comments or criticism in perspective.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy to ignore these people. I still get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when someone sends me an angry email, tweet, YouTube comment, etc. I’m not immune to it, but I also don’t let it ruin my day and you shouldn’t either. Here are three ways I deal with haters:
1. Type a response and delete it.
When someone sends me something hateful I compose a reply email, tweet, or FB comment with EXACTLY what I wanted to say to them, completely unfiltered. Once I finish I’ll take a deep breath and hit the delete button on my response and their original message. Definitely make sure you hit “delete” and not “send!” It’s surprising, but it works. Try it next time and I promise you’ll feel better a few minutes later. *Please make sure not to send your response!
2. Respond and see if you can get to the root of the issue (kill em with kindness).
This one is tricky, I’ll warn you up front. I’ve had success asking people why they were actually upset or what caused their negativity. It can take asking multiple questions and lots of patience, but it works with some people. Often when they realize they’re talking to another human being they take a step back and apologize. It’s rare, but this has worked for me and has turned a few angry people into fans. *This doesn’t work with YouTube commenters, ever.
3. Forward the comment/email/whatever to a friend and laugh about it.
This one takes a friend who you know will respond quickly. Text message or email the hateful remark to your friend and add a snarky comment about it. If your friend is a true friend, they’ll always have something to say to build you up and reinforce the fact you should ignore the negativity. *Typically this works best with someone who knows you best and will always have your back.
Lots of people will tell you just to ignore the comment or person, and I agree, that works. But sometimes you just need to DO something to feel better. If ignoring it still leaves a crappy feeling in the pit of your stomach, try one of the three things I mentioned above.
If you want to read another post on removing negativity, check out Removing Negativity From My Life.